This year’s W4A will fast be upon us. Accommodation has been booked, travel has been finalised, tickets have been bought, and suitcases are about to be packed for the annual Web accessibility conference, a conference I enjoy the most.
In the spirit of anticipation I decided to look through the Provisional Programme offered this year to see if there are any interesting papers which looked a little different from usual. The first is a surprising submission from Ricardo Baeza-Yates (Yahoo! Research, Spain) of information retrieval and search fame, co-authored with Luz Rello of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain). Their submission looks really interesting and is titled, ‘Estimating Dyslexia in the Web‘, they say:
In this study we present an estimation of texts containing English dyslexic errors in the Web. A classification of lexical errors is proposed and unique dyslexic errors were distinguished from other kind of errors due to spelling and grammatical errors, typos, OCR errors and errors produced when English is used as a foreign language. A representative sample of each kind of error was used to calculate a lower bound for the prevalence of dyslexia in the Web. Although dyslexia has been studied in the context of Web accessibility, to the best of our knowledge, an estimation of Web texts containing dyslexic errors was unknown. Our results are useful to tackle future work in Web accessibility among dyslexic users focusing not only in the interface but also in the text content.
The next interesting paper comes from our general chair Leo Ferres and is co-author José Fuentes both the Universidad de Concepción (Chile). They return to the accessibility of mathematical formulas and particularly those found on Wikipedia – ‘Improving Accessibility to Mathematical Formulas: The Wikipedia Math Accessor‘:
Mathematics accessibility is an important topic for inclusive education. We tackle the problem of accessing a large repository of mathematical formulas, by providing a natural language description of the more than 350,000 Wikipedia formulas using a well-researched sub-language targetting Spanish speakers, for whom assistive technologies, particularly domain-specific technologies like the one described here, are scarce.
Just looking at the programme there are too many good papers to pick out especially those from the Google student awards and the Microsoft challenge, but these two papers certainly whet my appetite and should give you a good indication of the kind of work you’re likely to see.
One final thing, if the conditions are right and the network is working I may try to stream a USTREAM live feed from the conference hall for all those who cannot attend. This will be split into sessions, however, as this is the first year using this technology I’m making no promises!